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Jul 04

Travels in Wine Country

Hello! I can’t post photos today, as my bag o’ cables and cords is elsewhere. However, I’ll eventually have several hundred photos from this trip online. By the end of the week, probably. I sunburnt my nose something awful on "Clinton Monday" as I was unexpectedly outside (I assumed it would be inside, silly me) and it has blistered and is attempting to heal. In the midst of putting moisturizer on my face to quell the sunburn, I managed to break out like a pre-teen everywhere but my nose, and I currently look something like a red-headed bride of Frankenstein. Very embarrassing. Make-up makes it worse. Ugh! Okay, now that my vanity rant is out of the way …
Wine country is gorgeous. We sped through Napa in a limo with 2 other couples on Friday.  We visited 5 vineyards – small to large.  We bought 5 bottles of wine.  I was forewarned that V. Sattui wasn’t very good, but we found if you ask the right questions you end up tasting not only their awful stuff (and it is truly awful) but their reserve stuff (which isn’t awful). (At a later date, I did learn that this stuff is truly awful.) At other vineyards, such as Coppola and Beringer, we went right for the more expensive reserve tastings, as we discovered that you can split the tasting (the pours are very liberal) and you get much more personalized service. Plus, even though we would just pay for one tasting, they’d usually end up giving us two glasses anyway, just because everyone is so nice. I don’t think Coppola or Beringer would have been as interesting if we hadn’t gone for the reserve. Saturday we started in Napa, at Domaine Chandon, which is beautiful, and then drove to Sonoma where we joined the Gundlach-Bundschu wine club. We fell in love with this vineyard a month or so ago, and were thrilled to visit and tour the wine caves. We like not only the wine, but the attitude. They’re just plain fun. They once "held up" the Napa Valley wine train and made the occupants drink Sonoma wine.  I like that attitude!  From there, we drove to Ravenswood, where we had a delicious BBQ lunch (Bobby Flay has visited their BBQ pit) and visited with Milton, the giant winery cat. We tasted there too, but we managed to only buy BBQ sauce.

We then headed out to Cline, which I loved. We’re going to join their wine club too, we think, as it’s only 2 bottles quarterly, which is quite affordable. After Cline, we went to Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves. They were getting ready for a wedding though, so we couldn’t take a cave tour, which I’d wanted to do. We had cheese and flatbread and wine/sparkling wine and sat out on the veranda and relaxed. I think Gloria Ferrer has the best views in Sonoma from their terraces.
After Ferrer, we debated on Viansa or zipping into St. Helena/Napa for Beringer or Mondavi. Napa won, as those vineyards were open later. So we zipped down Hwy 29 to Mondavi which was closed! They had the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in concert that night and were only letting in ticket holders. So down we went to Beringer. I was quite skeptical but John had told me it was lovely.  And it was! I was thrilled with the landscaping. And the reserve wines were not the dull stuff I had come to expect from Beringer.
For dinner, we headed all the way down to Calistoga (I wanted to see a little bit of everything!) and ate at the Flatiron Grill. Fish & Chips and a good Hefeweizen to drink.  Yep – beer and fish!  After a day packed so full of wine, we were both wanting an anti-wine dinner.  It was quite delicious!
Today, we are boarding the wine train and then perhaps hitting one more winery (turned out, it was several, including Mondavi, Franciscan, and St Supery). Then we’re heading into San Francisco to board our overbooked red-eye at 1 am, home to Cincinnati. Of course, if it is overbooked, maybe we can trade in our tickets.
See you all next week!

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Posted by Michelle at 8:00 am in Travel, Wineries | Permalink | Comments ()

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